I’m a sucker for a waterfall. So, it’s without surprise that we made our way to the Boulder River #734 trail on our recent visit to Washington State. Near Darrington, it’s well off the beaten path (we definitely had a feeling of “Deliverance” as we crawled along the empty access road).
As we weaved between potholes on the rain beaten gravel, the choice was between the lesser of several evils to minimize the severity of each jolt. After what seemed like a really long time (it’s only about 4 miles), we finally arrived at the trail’s head.
We approached the information post. The pages inside the registration box were soaking wet, the pencil was useless. I’m not sure why, but I really dig signing in for hiking trails. Perhaps it’s because it’s some sort of proof that I actually showed up and hiked.
I giddily dug into my bag in search of a pen. We carefully turned through the sodden pages. My face collapsed when we turned to the last page—all of the available spaces were filled in. Undaunted, we scribbled our details at the outer edge of the sheet perpendicular to the provided columns. That done, we proceeded with our ramble along the Boulder River.
We were rewarded straight away. We crossed a wooden bridge sporting a small stream of run-off. Much bigger falls awaited us we reminded ourselves. Once a logging grade, the trail starts out wide and flat.
As the forest became denser, it is hard to describe the profound sense of peace that enveloped me. The aromatic scent of pine and undergrowth and the roar of the river was all there was to keep us company. Sadly, there were no birds around though. I could only assume that most were still south for the winter.
The first obstacle we encountered was a large tree trunk leaning against the rocky wall. We felt like true adventurers as we snuck underneath, trickling water dampening our backs. About a mile on, we came upon what looked to be a rustic campground. Surrounded by beautiful pine trees and the sound of the river, it was an idyllic spot. It was empty now.
As we walked, we noticed the glossy moss that covered nearly everything. Old forest growth was abundant, saved by the wilderness boundary. Past the campground, we came to “Pre-Show Falls”, the water lacing its way down the rocky slope covered with maidenhair fern across the river. The water fall forms a horsetail towards the bottom as it descends about 150 feet. This fall was aptly named because the main event was just a little further along.
First, we heard the thundering water barreling down the mountain. Then, we rounded the bend to meet “Boulder Falls” –this beauty drops about 200 feet. This waterfall is supposed to split at the top, but no doubt the winter rains helped to merge this giant into a single grand cascade.
Between the thunder of the falls and the raging river, we could hardly hear each other. It didn’t matter. We sat for a bit, drinking in the magic of this special place in the forest. It was truly a site to behold.
From here, we continued along the trail moving away from the river. At the 2-mile mark, we came to a narrow wooden bridge spanning a shallow gully. We’d already been walking and photographing for a couple of hours. It was such a wonderfully cool day, we could have easily kept going, but our empty stomachs prevailed, so we headed back towards the car.
Boulder River #734 is an easy, pleasant walk set in remote wilderness. We crossed small creeks, navigated fallen trees, and deeply inhaled the wonderful aromas of the forest.
If you are in the vicinity of Darrington, Washington, you owe it to yourself to check out this hike.